Over 150 ships carrying Ukrainian grain stuck in Istanbul
A UN official in Ankara said on Monday that much more needed to be done to clear a backlog of more than 150 ships involved in a grain-export deal between Ukraine and Russia that was brokered by the UN and Turkey.
"There are currently over 150 vessels waiting around Istanbul to move and these delays have the potential to cause disruptions to the supply chain and port operations," said Ismini Palla, U.N. spokesperson for the Black Sea Grain Initiative which oversees a joint operation to monitor the implementation of the deal.
On Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy blamed Russia for the backlog and said Russia was slowing down grain exports to create a food crisis.
This is an artificial queue,” he said. “It arose only because Russia is deliberately delaying the passage of ships.”
UN officials earlier said the safe passage deal eased a global food crisis but as more shippers joined, the handful of teams inspecting cargo and crew transiting Turkish waters started to fall behind, leaving scores of tankers anchored in the Marmara Sea.
U.N. officials asked Russia and other parties to end "full-blown" inspections of outgoing vessels to ease the backlog.
Ukraine has exported more than 6.8 million tonnes of grain and other foodstuffs, about a third of its storage, since a sea corridor from the war-torn country opened in July.
Ukraine’s Infrastructure Ministry said that Ukraine’s three open ports are operating at less than a third of their normal capacity because of Russian interference.